The project, which is backed by a £1m Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) grant, will see the Almac work with scientists at Bangor University in Wales to develop novel speeding up drug production according to company enzymes chief, Tom Moody.
He told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: “The research will focus on developing P450 oxidative enzymes to shorten routes to key chemical intermediates,” explaining that while the project is backed by the BBSRC, Almac will own all the resulting technologies.
P450, or cytochrome p450 enzymes, catalyse a wide variety of oxidation reactions by remove an H atom from a C-Hand replacing it with an O atom.
Almac is already established in the biocatalysis field through earlier agreements with companies like DSM Pharmaceutical Products (DPP) – now part of DPx with Patheon – and other academic researchers at University College London (UCL).
More recently the firm further boosted its biocatalytic development capabilities in partnership with researchers at Queen’s University, Belfast in a deal that saw it add fermentation optimisation and scale up to its offering.
Moody said building on Almac’s existing capabilities was a major driver for the new partnership, explaining that: “Key to success is investment in the technology so it can continue to compete at the highest level.
“Having this technology will open further opportunities outside of this work” he added.
Biocatalysis is increasingly attracting the attention of Big Pharma firms. In June, enzyme specialist Codexis signed a land mark licensing deal with GSK that granted the drugmaker rights to its enzyme development platform.
The GSK deal – which follows Codexis’s earlier agreements with Pfizer and Merck & Co - combined with Almac’s new development efforts is an indication of growing demand for greener, quick production methods.